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Thread: Have MPA degree, considering MUP

  1. #1
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    Chicago, IL
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    Have MPA degree, considering MUP

    Hello:

    First, I want to thank everyone who takes the time to post in the student lounge. This site is a tremendous resource for anyone thinking about a planning career. So I am hoping to gain some additional insight from people already working in the field or who have enrolled/graduated from a graduate planning program.

    I will graduate in December 2011 from Northwestern with a hybrid MPA degree (it's tecnhically, an MPPA, master of arts in public policy and administration). My specialization in this program is urban policy and administration. The specialization component only consists of 4 classes, which I hardly think qualifies me for a professional planning job. Thus, I am thinking about an MUP program as my next step. Do you think this would be worthwhile, or only redundant? I am writing my thesis on the fiscalization of land use. My primary planning interests are land use and municipal budgeting, but I think I would use the MUP to gain knowledge in physical planning since I already have some level of policy experience from my first degree.

    Last qualification: I have zero professional planning experience, so I want to build connections in the planning community and need internship/professional experience as well. My biggest challenge is that I have a decent job and don't want to look for a new job until I am actually marketable. My MPPA program has been part-time, and I would apply for a part-time MUP program at UIC if I go this route.

    If anyone has any advice or thoughts, your input would be most appreciated...thank you!!!

  2. #2
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    one more quick note

    I should add that my undergraduate degree is international relations/comparative politics, which is not planning.

    So I am curious about the relative value of an MUP if I am already getting an MPA degree and want to work in the planning field. I didn't even think of an MUP when I started my program at Northwestern. It was through the urban policy classes in my current program that I discovered my interest in planning.

    Again, thanks for reading this any offering any thoughts you have.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Northwestern University, although one of the top institutions in the world, is not considered a planning program, either in Chicagoland or throughout the country. You are right that four courses are not enough to fully understand planning. I would recommend an MUP such as UIC if you plan on staying in the area.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  4. #4
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    Thank you. In terms of eventually getting a job, how important is a planning program's reputation if I decide to relocate to another metro area (e.g., MIT vs. UIC)?

  5. #5
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    Dec 2009
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    Cambridge, MA
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    Don't get another degree without some experience

    The only 2 reasons I can see you returning to additional school for an MUP are as follows:

    1) You have discovered that you really, really like physical planning and you want to learn how to design comprehensive plans (i.e. do charrettes, use Adobe software and SketchUp and CAD) -- essentially, you would much rather be a designer than do anything else in the planning field such as zoning, urban policy, sustainability planning, etc.
    2) You just like school and really would like to keep going part-time.

    Your MPA will qualify you to do almost anything in the urban policy and planning field except work for a design firm. You will absolutely be able to find a job with a city, a regional government, etc. with an MPA as much as you would with an MPA/MUP.

    I really view the acquisition of multiple master's degrees -- especially in this economy -- as a big mistake to avoid if at all possible, unless you truly have a passion for learning and need to chase it. You will be increasing your debt burden without increasing your possible future earnings much, if at all. And that's a big deal for those of us who would like to remain in the socially-oriented professions that don't pay quite as much as we might all wish.

  6. #6
    In other words, there is so much overlap between an MCP/MUP and an MPA that it really isn't worth pursuing a dual degree? I figured getting most of the policy, public finance courses out of the MPA and the design structure out of the MCP would make for a killer combo?

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